January 26, 2014

Reacting Emotionally in a Relationship is Not a Mistake.


Mistakes happen. How do we react?

People often contact me who feel they’ve damaged something beyond the “legal emotional limit.” They’ve over-reacted out of attachment to someone and are convinced they’ve done irreparable destruction to the relationship. These people are in an anxious turmoil as to apparent loss they feel entirely responsible for creating with the beloved.

In reality, they’ve been provoked by the physical or emotional abandonment by the other party.

Many of us experienced some sort of abandonment in our early childhood.

It doesn’t have to be “tragic,” it can be as simple as our needs not being met in early life and feeling alone or unheard. Those times made an impression on our subconscious, as our brain tried to figure out what was safe and what was not. Our parents weren’t perfect, so unfortunately, those gaps can create a lot of hanging onto painful situations. Unless there’s a ton of self-awareness, catching our reaction is almost impossible, it’s been triggered and now there’s the fall-out.

As I said, mistakes happen, but let me define that statement. A mistake is a perception and we call it that when we didn’t get the outcome we wanted.

We then analyze the crap out of our actions.

Holding on tight and not wanting to let go can make us feel desperate and disempowered. When we’ve done something in this emotional state, we feel we’ve destroyed all chances of a future with this mate. It’s just not true.

We’re human.

Unfortunately, when we felt unsafe as kids, we came up with these strategies to not be abandoned, which have nothing to do with vulnerability at all. Physically, they may keep us safe, but emotionally they keep us stuck, causing a lot more pain as we look to others to provide the antidote.

When we’re unaware, we seek out the person with the traits who mimics the initial abandonment in our early life and try to get now, what we didn’t get back then. It doesn’t make the other person bad; instead it sets up the disappointment and pain created by their reaction to us.

We feel we live in mistake city and continue to strategize and contort ourselves in ways that we hope will keep us from being abandoned.

When someone is being taken away without our consent and we’ve attachment to him/her, we feel a hellfire inside of us! Anxiety is over the top making us feel impending doom.

Anxiety is our greatest prison in its capacity to keep our mind going in circles.

When we react to something in a way that’s over the top, we need to be kind to ourselves, forgive ourselves and not get crazy beating ourselves up!

What to do?

  • Focus inward. Kindly and gently. Close our eyes, focus on where the pain is erupting…the jumping anxious thoughts and relax into it as much as possible. Just observe.
  • Next connect to the physical sensations. Go inside of them, allow them to surface, don’t bolt! It’s the first inclination.
  • Now see if images come with the sensations. How early in life are those memories? See the provocation between now and then, what does it say? What’s the story around the belief of lack?

Remember, the clearer we get, the less we’re provoked into distress.

When we stop punishing ourselves with these so-called mistakes and practice loving ourselves…we change our lives.

We see our overreaction is not the be all or end all. Instead, we see our power is not over the other person. We’re clear how our reaction isn’t going to truly impact the decision our mate made in abandoning us. As much as we think we’ve destroyed something with our words/actions, it’s really not in our control to change someone’s mind or confirm they made the right decision.

We may momentarily impact them, and trigger a response we don’t want—but in the end, they’ll decide what’s best for them, period.

If someone wants to remain invulnerable, nothing we do will get through that exterior, unless they decide to be vulnerable.

Meanwhile, it’s time to get clear on why we wanted the invulnerable in our lives and our invulnerability too. Our mate is a mirror to us in how we’re unkind and act in ways that don’t promote love. These clues to the vagueness inside of us, give way to clarity and why we do what we do. 

Remember, doing ourselves a kindness by “not” trying to fix our apparent mistakes caused by our reactions will bring our power back to us. Just forgive, be kind and come from love. It’s that simple.


Relephant reads: 

Living Consciously: The Power to Choose How We React in Any Situation.

Life is 10% what happens to me & 90% how I react to it.

Overreact, Schmoverreact. 

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

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